We all know we should be drinking plenty of filtered water every day, especially if we’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Sometimes, however, the craving of a bubbly soft drink (or soda if you’re from the US) can set in.
While many of us occasionally give in to a bubbly treat and remain healthy, new research shows that having too much soft drink doubles the risk of a serious health condition.
When looking at the results from 2,800 adults, researchers found those who consumed two 200ml soft drinks per day had double the risk of developing diabetes.
Interestingly, this was true of both sugar laden soften drinks and those sweetened artificially.
The increased risk included type 2 diabetes, as well as a form of type 1 diabetes known as latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA).
Why Are Soft Drinks Linked To Diabetes?
There are two main types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas makes little to no insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is when cells are no longer able to process insulin properly (this is known as insulin resistance) and it leads to elevated blood sugar levels.
LADA has an autoimmune component categorising it as type 1 diabetes, but there’s also an element of insulin resistance. For this reason, some refer to it as type 1.5, though it isn’t an official term.
A high sugar diet has long been associated with the development of type 2 diabetes. This was thought to be the result of weight gain from the high sugar diet.
What researchers were looking at in this recent study is whether soft drinks made with artificial sweeteners also increased the risk of diabetes.
The results did show an increase in both type 2 diabetes and LADA.
There wasn’t much surprise regarding sugary soft drinks, but it was a surprise to find artificially sweetened soft drinks increased the risk of diabetes too.
Lead study author, Josefin Edwall Löfvenborg from The Karolinska Institutet, gave a possible explanation saying, “…consumption of diet soft drinks may stimulate appetite and make us increase our food intake, especially sweet/sugary foods, possibly leading to overweight, which is a risk factor for diabetes. Another one is that artificial sweeteners may negatively affect the balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ species of microbes in the gut, which could lead to glucose intolerance.”
Is The Risk Of Developing Diabetes Really That Serious?
Let’s face it, some of the big “no” foods and beverages can be quite tasty. However, dealing with diabetes is no walk in the park. So, is the risk of developing diabetes really that serious if you enjoy soft drinks?
It’s estimated that around 9.3% of the US populations suffers from diabetes. That’s over 29 million people. Of those that have diabetes, 90-95% have type 2. While genetics can play a role, in many cases, the risk of type 2 diabetes is strongly related to lifestyle.
Those who drank just two 200ml soft drinks, artificially sweetened or not, doubled the risk of developing LADA, and were 2.4 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Even more concerning, those who consumed five 200ml soft drinks were 3.5 times more likely to develop LADA and were 10.5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
It’s quite clear that dietary habits can greatly impact the development of diabetes. Certainly, there are other risk factors and components, but research shows we need to be conscious of what we consume and in what quantity we consume it.
BellyBelly highly recommends watching That Sugar Film, which is an eye-opening documentary.
Is This Information Really Important For Me?
Perhaps you’re young and in great shape. Maybe you eat very healthy but you enjoy soft drinks. Or maybe you’ve been drinking soda for years and have remained as healthy as a horse.
Regardless, it’s an important public health topic as many developed countries are facing an epidemic when it comes to diabetes, mainly type 2 and gestational diabetes.
In fact, Alzheimer’s Disease is being labelled type 3 diabetes by some experts.
Many of us have easy access to tempting junk food. Being aware of the risks can help us to make wise and informed decisions. The research doesn’t say if you occasionally indulge in soft drinks you’re headed right to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
However, it does show a strong link between drinking soft drinks and increasing your risks.
If you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant, while this study wasn’t related to reproduction, this information can be important. While gestational diabetes is different from type 2 or LADA, it’s significantly affected by diet.
Making wise dietary choices before, during and after pregnancy can help reduce your risk of diabetes, whether gestational, type 2 or LADA.